'Vain, arrogant and narcissistic': Survé takes on Media24 in R100m defamation lawsuit

Sagarmatha Technologies hopes to unite the various groups in Iqbal Survé's media empire under a new roof. (Picture: City Press)
Sagarmatha Technologies hopes to unite the various groups in Iqbal Survé's media empire under a new roof. (Picture: City Press)

Dr Iqbal Survé is seeking R100m in damages relating to an article that his lawyers said portrayed him as "dishonest and a liar" to boost his "status and stature".  

The chairperson of media group Independent Media and the head of Sekunjalo is suing Media24 and veteran journalist Terry Bell over an article that took about two years to research and that was published in 2016.

The article, "Fact-checking Iqbal Survé’s bold bio leaves more questions", questions several claims made by the media mogul.

In the article Bell wrote that Survé may have fabricated a great deal of his background. "In particular, there seems no independent evidence of his major claim to fame: that he was the personal friend of, and physician to, former president Nelson Mandela."

Bell states that Mandela left Robben Island in 1982 for Pollsmoor Prison when Survé was a junior medical student at the University of Cape Town.

In papers by the Harvard Business School, Survé also claims Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada as a mentor. However, when confronted with this, Kathrada noted: “I don’t think I have ever been a mentor to anyone. I don’t know the man personally,” wrote Bell at the time.

Papers filed in the Cape Town high court on Friday, without going into finer detail, highlight five issues as problematic. These include Survé's "personal relationships" with Mandela and Kathrada, his role in assisting national and international sporting teams and that he trained as a mahout elephant handler.

It further states that the accusations and statements carry the "sting of being disparaging" and additionally that Survé is "vain, arrogant and narcissistic".

As a result of the article, Survé has "been damaged in his good name, reputation and standing in the media industry and has suffered damages to the amount of R100m", the court papers read.  

"I stand by everything I have written," Bell told Fin24.

He said Survé was given the right of reply, but did not respond to detailed questions.

Media24 will defend the lawsuit.

Survé was not immediately available when called for comment.

Recently, Survé gave testimony before the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation and its governance involving a controversial investment into AYO Technology Solutions.

Survé's investments came under scrutiny after AYO listed on the JSE in December 2017, with the PIC subscribing to all its available shares for R4.3bn. Sekunjalo holds a 30% stake in AYO via its subsidiary African Equity Empowerment Investments.

*Fin24 is part of 24.com, a division of Media24.

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